Magnolia House endings -draft

While putting out the 2005 herbs on the table of objects that disappear, outside Magnolia house, Eric passed by
Are you nearly there? he asked
I keep finding corners and draws with another jar of marmite or another extension lead, I said and we both laughed, he as if he’d witnessed this many times before.
How long have you been here? I asked and so I received the story of the Station Road dead end street. He’d been here 36 years.
‘A brother and sister lived opposite, with a dominating mother, who lived in a caravan in the back garden. Yes, they were the ones that looked after Mrs Turner when she lived in Magnolia house. You know Hopkins of Hopkins Homes? Well he set up at the beginning with Moor. Even now they trade under that name Hopkins and More for building some estates. Well Moor he lived here, in Clarence House, and when he left, he had a party for 3 days! Music booming out of the building, people sitting out on the street, yes it was a memorable event.
A few where holiday homes. I think there isn’t a home I haven’t worked in on this street!

It turned out – just before I described it as the ramshackle development – he’d built all the extensions at the back of Richardsons gun shop. ‘They kept acquiring land.’

I started a document called Magnolia Days – still residing on the desktop of my computer. Intended as a song to these times in this house. I knew that they would end and may be it was that that gave the poignancy, drove the need to record, their finite quality, to catch and remember this interlude in the beginning of the autumn of my days. The document is but a paragraph long.

I came into a family home, not unlike Hoe Mill, my god fathers home and like a 2nd home to me. In both I am but a visitor. It holds a past which is not mine. The dream of marrying a farmer and sitting at a refectory table in a Georgian farm house with my 6 children around never materialised!

I remember unpacking and settling into my room the day we put it on the market knowing it would sell. How’s that for psychology?

Here’s the paragraph:
I wake up out of a dream.
(dream of being with Michael, and water coming down from the development above – as it does at Hammonds – and we went to investigate and found a rough tough council estate room with a policeman at the entrance who looked at us as strangers, and was a bit drunk. Someone was playing table tennis in a far off room. Let’s investigate I said, and so we walked towards the sea.

The September sun shines through the dark green of the magnolia leaves framing the generous Georgian bedroom window. I am here. For a while anyhow. I now know it’s transience, which settles in with a sadness. I decide to write a day in our lives here to remember this time. Here I am.

‘Bobji definitely sleeps on the sofa in my room’, says Michael coming in with 2 cups of tea before settling into the rocker, putting on the head torch, and starts to read from Wilding. We are at the introduction, the returning of the Turtle Dove to the estate, which bucks the trend on it’s near extinction in Britain. Michael used to read to Tamsyn and very early on asked if he could continue that tradition, and read to me. I think at first I was uncomfortable, I was not Tamsyn after all, and liked to rise early to greet the day without dally. But now I see it is a pleasure Michael gets, a good start to the day which he otherwise misses. And I’m loving being read to. We read the whole of Overstory (sometimes taking it in turns).

I will have a shower to day, M says at the end of the read, and after we’ve gone through the plan of our day. At which Kali, on my bed, pricks up his ears, and as soon as M gets up to go there is a mad dog dash to the shower.
‘He’s learned a new movement’ says M later. At the end of my shower I put down the shower head and gradually turn off the water. As it did that this time, Kali shrugged his shoulders and walked off, getting the idea that the event was now closed.

We took a break from packing. I wanted to walk up the road one last time to take a train, and Michael remembered and fitted it into these packing up days. Begun over 6 months ago, thank goodness, we are finally near the end of shuffling stuff. We walked out of our front door and up the road, I more anxious early, with two dogs on leads, and masks to hand to Platform 1 to Lowestoft. We were the only one on the 4.50. They day was cold but dry and as we rattled through the broad of Oulton the sun made a watery appearance. Each station held a different memory, Brampton where Michael knew the telephone box from calling…. Me from walking from Oulton to Beccles with Kali. At Lowestoft the north wind made itself known, but we with our backs to it we crossed the sole crossing connecting North Sea to Broad, to the Lowestoft promenaded.
‘No fish and chips here, only burgers, but you’ll find one 8 minutes walk away in Kirkby’ said the trader. He’d kept open throughout this year, he said, done good business with the rest closed, in fact he should have done fish and chips he said! So we walked, the dogs digging sand, barking running, cocking leg, looking for stick. Turning up Waterloo road, we found the Kirkby Chippy, where they cooked our 2 haddock and chips on the spot. We sat on a bench overlooking the grey sea to savour them until they got too cold.

It was on the journey back, I asked Michael about his memories of Magnolia house. Here is what he said:

We first came to the house from an Open Garden event where we met Mrs Turner, who said, I’ve got a nice garden in Halesworth, would we like to see it? Of course, Tamsyn said yes, and we did. We must have seen the copper beech, but we didn’t go into the house.

Having decided to sell Alameda Street and migrate up to Suffolk, and knowing our Reydon cottage was too small for all the stuff we had (he looks at me across the table and laughs) Kath got on line, and sent us a link to Magnolia. Mrs Turner was selling 10 years later. Her husband had died and she was having blackouts. In fact I think once we came round she’d blacked out on the kitchen floor.

The garden was in total decline. We needed to do some fundamental work, which we set to immediately. Replacing the Crittle windows (some reluctance from the planners), making an entrance from the kitchen into the south garden, and putting in an en suit to the first bedroom. I was nervous of how this would effect the Georgian proportions but came round to it for the 2nd front bedroom later. Oh an an Aga! Tamsyn insisted on an Aga.

We moved in in 2005. The first christmas was a disaster. It was the first and only time the whole family came for Christmas. Kath, Darren, Shaw, and Keara and Candy, Edward, Zoe and Saskia, all stayed in Magnolia. What went wrong? First Tamsyn undercooked the turkey, Darren took charge, which made Tamsyn even more cross. There were family arguments, and from that moment on we had christmas with either one of the other family. The home bought with family christmases in mind would find other uses.

We had plenty of other events here. Probably the biggest was our 50th wedding anniversary, with a marque on the lawn under the copper beech, a string quartet playing, and gathered were all our extended families, both mine and Tamsyns. Ian and his two sisters, Shelley and Zoe, John Spires, people from Hampsted school. Rene came – she often came and stayed with us, she was such a stalwart friend of Tamsyns. Her birthday is June 15th same day as Shaws

After Tamsyn formed Halesworth in Bloom, we had our first Open Garden here, on a beautiful sunny day. Janet Hyde Smith ran a book shop in the stables. Then there were the Heritage open days, for which Tamsyn did all the research on the house.

It was a sad day they took the cyprus down. And a glorious day when we found we could open up the stables to the top garden. We had BBQ’s up there.
The stables were a great boom to us, offering a natural space for gatherings. U3A, the Campaign to prevent the closure of the railway crossing, and Socratic Dialgues of course – you came to one.

Jonathan Aitkin came round. We must have been out shopping or something, but the couple who looked after Mrs Turner, who lived opposite saw him come in and go round the back. ‘I was just brining my friend to see where my bedroom was’, he explained. He’d just come out of serving his time in prison, and presumably the man with him was a fellow from that time. But Tamsyn refused permission later for him to return to Magnolia for the TV show, the House I was Bought up in. Instead Elizabeth allowed him to Quay House, where he’d also spent some of his childhood.

The whole family did come back of course, for when Tamsyn died, and they were very special days in Magnolia. All were gathered here. Tamsyn was set up in the back sitting room from where she could see the garden, and all her diaries around her, which we took in turns to read to her. She was so cheerful. Still keeping a watchful eye on Halesworth in Bloom. It was a kind of magic time.

I remember come back from America staying with Kath back to empty Magnolia and Durrants said they hadn’t had the keys to show anyone round, so it was unsold. Which was not true of course, but it has given us this time. I remember you moving in at the beginning of Lockdown. And how could I forget our Table Tennis evenings with Gabrielle, after Upwards.


Joe Biden has called upon the world to confront the climate crisis and “overcome the existential crisis of our time”, as he unveiled an ambitious new pledge to slash US planet-heating emissions in half by the end of the decade.

Addressing a virtual gathering of more than 40 world leaders in an Earth Day climate summit on Thursday, Biden warned that “time is short” to address dangerous global heating and urged other countries to do more.

Shortly before the start of the summit, the White House said the US will aim to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by between 50% and 52% by 2030, based on 2005 levels. Biden said the new US goal will set it on the path to net zero emissions by 2050 and that other countries now needed to also raise their ambition.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s